Sunday, July 10, 2011

The value of her love.

He didn't know the value of her love, she gave it to him freely.
She gave him a thousand little things he never noticed.
What now?
When her hands are empty and still he doesn't see her.
All the almost-insignificant things she can't list for him,
piled up now and disregarded like extra napkins and used plastic forks.

When she took his hand, it was the first hand she ventured to take
and when she asked for his kiss
it was the first kiss she ever asked for.
Perhaps time has little value,
but she waited for him to ask for her.
Left days open should he want to see her.
She saved up her pretty words and smiles and little touches.

He didn't know the value of her love.
Didn't know the cost of loving someone for her
when she knows all too well how much they can hurt you when you love them
but she loved him anyway.

He didn't see the beauty in her.
She worked so hard to polish away the rough edges
to be healthy and whole.
She learned how to love herself
so she would believe someone else could do the same.
But he didn't see that. Didn't see her.

He didn't know the value of her love.
But she loved him anyway.
And paid for it in full measure.
And loved him anyway.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Remembering: The Fire

It was a Sunday morning. I was chatting with Sarah McClure on facebook. The night before I had stayed up by myself drinking vanilla vodka and texting my friends. For this reason, I fell asleep with my make-up on and had mascara smeared around my eyes and crazy, crazy hair. But I hadn't bothered showering or getting dressed yet. Lazy Sunday.

I went to the kitchen hunting for breakfast. Mom was sitting on the floor with the contents of the fridge spread out around her. It looked like she was in the process of cleaning the inside of the fridge. But she was high or something, her eyes half-closed and her head drooping down to her chest. I got angry, as I always did when I saw her that way. I left the kitchen.

I spent some un-remembered amount of time hiding out in my room. I usually did that. I didn't want to see my parents and keeping the bedroom door closed kept the smoke out a little better. Kiersten woke up eventually and I could hear the sounds of her playing and Mom yelling after her. I didn't pay attention.

(This is the hard part to write, my heart begins to race as my I think about the words to type, before my fingers even make the keystrokes.)

I heard the fire alarm. And my mother started screaming. And then Kiersten started screaming too. And then the smoke. All at once, one right after the other. I ran out of my room, straight towards the sound of the screaming. The stove was on fire. Or just the saucepan full of oil. Or the wall and the hood of the oven. Or the ceiling too. I just saw my mother there in the tiny kitchen, standing under the ark of the flame licking up, up, at the ceiling. She was screaming and trying to throw water on it. An oil fire. I yelled at her. "Get out! Get out!" I screamed.

My dad was still in his bedroom. Kiersten was screaming and running away from the kitchen. I grabbed her and ran for the door. I thought better and ran back to my room for the phone. I grabbed my phone out of my purse, sitting there on the bed. Why didn't I just grab the whole purse? Or a t-shirt? The car keys were right there in the purse. And my credit cards and my ID and everything I really, really needed. But I grabbed the phone. And ran out of the room again. The smoke was getting bad.

Mom had to wake dad. I guess she did that while I was getting the phone. Why didn't he wake on his own? How could a person sleep through that? I ran right past my shoes and out the door. No shoes. Only a tank top and pajama pants and shaking, shaking hands. I banged on the neighbors doors as we went out. "Our apartment is on fire! You need to go outside!" I told them as best I could.

Kiersten struggled against me, crying for her grandma. Mom was still inside, trying to wake the downstairs neighbors. Kiersten screamed and writhed. Something was wrong with my phone. My shaking hands and the panic kept me from understanding what. Emergency mode? What is that? I think I called 911. I must have.

They took forever, didn't they? My mom took Kiersten, I think. And my mom and dad disappeared. Ran off. Hid. Or something. How could they leave me like that? Something about my mom having a warrant. So I watched my home burn. By myself. I felt so alone.

I crossed the parking lot to be away from the flames. People were coming outside of other apartments to stare. I called Jeremy. He didn't answer. I don't know why I thought of him first, out of everyone. I sent a message to facebook. "Oh my god, my house is on fire." People weren't sure if I was serious or not. I called my boss. Like she should know as soon as possible if I couldn't work tomorrow.

I watched in horror as the black smoke curled in around the blinds in the front room. Then my bedroom. I thought of all the things in there. All of it, destroyed. I wouldn't know until later that most things would be okay. I only knew that I was alone and that a horrible thing was happening. And I was alone.

I think I called other people. The rest of the time, the days, the weeks, the months until I found a new normal are all strange collections of too-vivid and too-blurry images. Shopping at dollar general for shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, and the like in my pajamas. Washing the clothes I pulled out of the house after the fire at the laundromat, praying they wouldn't smell too bad. Crying and crying and crying. That horrible sunburn from standing there in the July sun in a tank top for hours. The feeling of being completely alone. The feeling of realizing how many people loved and supported me.

That was the scariest day of my life. And the days and weeks that followed were more challenging and painful than I thought I could handle. But I'm so glad it happened. So many wonderful things happened afterwards, because of that day.

I could be more articulate, I'm sure. But I don't think I'm over it yet. If it still makes me cry, I'm not over it yet, right?

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Do you ever get to a place where you feel like there is no one you can talk to? I have so many friends, so many people that I love and that love me, but I feel things I can't find the words to say. I just want the feelings to go away. It is amazing how grateful and content I can feel, how full my life can be, and how I still want more. Isn't that the way of it?

Friday, April 29, 2011

The things we do:

Sometimes I take a step back and look in wonder at my life now and how different it is from before. But other times I realize I'm still bound by the things that held me down before. Sometimes we get stronger, but some things take a long time to get over. One day, one day I'll be free.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Things you can't learn without experience:

Are we inexorably bound to wear every mask in this play? I think I've been every character so far.

We tell ourselves stories. Line up the memories, situations, and moments until they all fit a story line. This is how we met. This is what our relationship was like. This is who I was. This is who they were. We forget things sometimes. Memories that don't fit the story we tell ourselves. Or maybe just memories that aren't relevant to the story. Life doesn't work like the novels, but we write and read novels because we think life should be like that. So we are ever trying to re-evaluate the past and make it into a story that makes sense to us. Or at least I do.

So my story has inter-chapters. Short stories in the overall arching plot. The story of my friendship with Katelyn. The story of how I fell in and out of love with Jeremy. The story of how Ashley Jelonek taught me that some people really do stay forever (and further, how she became known as Ashley Jelonek and not just Ashley.) The story of growing up as a child of drug addicts. The story of losing 100lbs. So many of them. Full of characters too.

You see, we can't ever fully know another person. We learn bits and pieces and fill in the places we don't see or understand. People become characters. Complex, wonderful, difficult characters. And I'm finding that, over time, I keep playing the roles these other people have played in my life. The actions that seemed to me so incomprehensible are suddenly being acted out by my own limbs and I see that, in this story, I am the villain that he was. I am the enigma that she was. I am the selfishness that they were.

I can't be certain, but I'm fairly sure that other people practice less introspection that I do. But I want to know if this happens to other people.

It is an uncomfortable feeling to realize that you are the villain in someone else's story. I suppose villain is too strong a word. The one causing the pain. But is also enlightening in a way I never expected. I can go back and revise that old story. Flesh out the character a little better.

Why yes it did hurt when I fell on my face, but now I can see you didn't trip me on purpose.
And I know you lied to me over and over again, but now I understand how if feels to be afraid that the truth might hurt more than the lies.
You were being selfish and inflexible but I let you and didn't know how to draw boundaries or communicate effectively.

It is really easy to get to the end of one of the short stories and just say "he was a selfish, mean, inconsiderate jerk who didn't know how to love himself, let alone anyone else" or "she wanted attention and adoration more than friendship because she thought she was a goddess fit for worship".

The harder thing is to say: He didn't love me the way I loved him. He couldn't and never would. But he still loved me in his own way. He was broken in places, just like we all are, and didn't know how to balance being friends with me and not hurting me. He failed miserably. But we both were at fault.

Or: I changed and she didn't. The things our friendship did for me became things I didn't need anymore. I didn't know how to communicate with her about the things that made me unhappy and she didn't know how to listen to my stumbling, awkward tries and the friendship failed. We were both at fault.

I learned these things because I played these roles in other peoples lives. It will probably happen over and over again.

Are we inexorably bound to wear every mask in this play? I think I've been every character so far.

Monday, March 14, 2011

How I hate hate hate you.

I hate hate hate that I still care.
That I still wonder how you are and what you are up to.
Hate when you said you knew we would be friends forever and I said I wasn't so sure. I hate that I was right.
I hate that you pushed me to the point where I wished you would go away and never come back.
I hate that my life has been so much better without you.

But you never treated me with the respect I thought I deserved.
The respect I learned to demand.
And I could never think of you as just a friend.

I hate that I miss you.
The way you always seemed to be so much more fun than everyone else.
So sophisticated and put together. Handsome. Witty. Strong. Boyish. Fun.

But in your presence I felt inarticulate, ordinary, boring, awkward, and not-good-enough.
I don't miss that at all.

I don't miss the way you made me cry.
Over and over and over again.
The way you seemed to regard me as the least important person you knew.
I don't miss the way you didn't know how to love me.

So I hate hate hate that I still care.
I hate hate hate that I love you.
And I hate, hate, hate that I can't hate you at all.

Monday, March 07, 2011


I was struck today by the word "unfriend". It was there in the left panel of the screen as I facebook-creeped today. As an option. Unfriend?

It brought to mind several relationships that never reached a conclusion. You don't really break up with friends. Time usually does the trick. A slow decline in communication. Or at least, that is how it seems to be with me. As I stared at the word, I felt the pull of those fading relationships. As if maybe I should fix them. Have they gone past the point of no return? And even if they haven't, have the things that stopped me from breathing life into the friendship suddenly disappeared? Is there anything left to save? If there was some way to hit the "unfriend" button in real life, and not hurt anyone, could I do it?

No. I don't think so. I always hope it will all be okay, in the end.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

I dream things. I tell you about them.

I keep having dreams about moving. The dreams are always focused on the new living space, not who is living with me or where this place is or why we are moving. From the dream last night I remember there was no mirror in the bathroom. Every time I would wash my hands I would stare at the wall expecting to see myself, but only seeing blue wallpaper with little white flowers on it. There was a nail there, as if the last tenant had been as uncomfortable as I was, unable to see a reflection. I thought about how I needed to get a mirror in there. Soon.

It was an apartment in a large complex of buildings. Mine was several floors up. Broken elevator. My room was small. So full of stuff that there was only room to walk a small aisle between the stuff shoved up against the walls and the bed, jutting out into the room as if to declare itself the master of the room. The bed-room. Wood floors. And the bed had high legs and no skirt so you could see underneath it. That made me uncomfortable. I like the bed skirt to brush against the carpet on the floor. Like the bed is a solid thing, not floating on four small legs.

With all of these uncomfortable things happening: the lack of mirror, the small room, all the STUFF, the bed, it would seem that I would be unhappy about this move. But the feeling of the dream was one of hopefulness. I can buy a mirror. I can get rid of some stuff. I can rearrange a room and get a bed skirt. Fixable things. It was a dream full of excitement and hopefulness.

I only felt the need to write of this because moving-dreams keep happening. I dreamt of moving into an old house with huge rooms and hidden doorways. I dreamt of getting my own apartment that was nearly bare but all mine. I dreamt of a place I shared with many people, all full of chaos and mis-matched furniture.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

That poor, poor girl.

That poor, poor girl.
She didn't know what she was getting into.
Didn't know until two years later when she came out the other side of it.
That poor, poor girl.
Already survived so much. Too much to really be healthy.
She didn't know the difference between respect and attention.
It was a slow lesson. With many tears.
That poor, poor girl.
She can't even say his name now without that hollow place coming to life.
So sweet. So cruel. So selfish.
Ah, the poor girl.
She is learning all over again what it is to be free.
Doesn't trust the honest words of the next man.
Keeps waiting for the next blow.
The poor girl.
She didn't know what she was getting into.
But now she's afraid of what comes next.

What are you?

I am a writer. I need to learn to own the word. Always before today I would say, "I like to write." or "I write things."  But no more. I am a writer.

Somehow in my mind I reduced the word to a mere profession. As if I could only legitimately call myself a writer if someone paid me to do it. Some profit from my craft. But writing for me isn't about making money. It is a selfish endeavor to express myself, work out my feelings, wonder, create, rail against, speak, sing, be. I am a writer.

I don't just write when my hands are on a keyboard or a pen. I write all day long as I see and experience and think. There is this inner voice trying to find the best way to describe a room, to sum up a situation, to find the meaning in pointless, horrible, wonderful things. I am a writer.

I see popular media representing "writers" as people that have been working on the first page of a manuscript for a dozen years. They call themselves writers and people give them the sad, knowing look. Sure, you're a writer. But creating a manuscript for someone to judge and deem worthy or not is not my goal. I don't care if anything I write ever gets published. Okay. That is a lie. It would feel really great for something like that to happen. But I'm not trying for that. When I write stories or poems or blog entries or letters to my friends it is because I find pleasure in the act.

To me it amounts to singing. I sing all day long. When I'm putting on make-up. When I'm waiting on customers. When I'm driving down the road and the people in the passing cars give me looks. Karaoke. The shower. While cooking.While listening to other people talk. It feels great when someone tells me I sing well. When people clap at karaoke and pat me on the back. But that isn't why I sing. It feels nice to sing. So I do it.

I do many thing for the reward inherent in just doing them. I smile. I dance. I cook things. I hang out with my friends. I read books and watch movies. I go for walks. I write. I am a writer.

This whole post was an exercise to convince myself that I am allowed to own the word. Somehow, I still don't believe me.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Wherein Sarah Jo makes references to Lucky Charms and Japanese Curry:

I don't have a poem to write. Or some insight I discovered today. I just wanted to write.

The other day I woke up from a dream that was so vivid I had to write it. I worked backwards from the moment that struck me until I found a place to start. It was so nice. The words just poured out of me until my fingers hurt and I realized hours had passed. Now what am I going to with it? It is a barely-there story beginning about vampire hunting in Europe. And finding a vampire. I don't want to write any more about it. I just wanted it to be written.

I think the unfortunate part of my passion for writing is that it ends after the story is written down. I don't care if anyone else reads it. I don't care about editing or publishing or any of that, really. I just wanted to develop the story and see what it could be. For my own enjoyment.

I do eventually want to write my own story. I know I'm not anything sensational. I don't really have a lot of selling points for the reader that knows nothing of me, but I have things to say. And I've learned much through the years that have gotten me here. I may be young, but life has taught me wisdom. I could share some of that. And make you laugh too.

But not tonight.

Tonight I'm ruminating on relationships (not the romantic kind.) I haven't come to a point yet though, so I can't really share my thoughts with you. Have you ever made curry? When making Japanese curry you toss these bricks of curry into a pot of water and vegetables and wait for it to thicken. You hope it will thicken. You watch and wait and stir. I think this is where I am right now with my thoughts.

I spent time talking with several of my friends this evening at different points. They all seemed to have something upsetting happening in their lives they needed to talk about. It happens often this way. Sometimes things just go wrong in peoples lives. But I had this great well of peace inside me that felt like it was just flowing outward. I wanted them to have it too.

But I don't know the cost of such peace. Is it a different price for all of us? Did I have to experience all of my own stuff to get here? Was that my price for peace? Or was it waiting for me all along, just waiting to be taken hold of? No. I could never have known such peace before this. I know the uncertainty, doubt, fear, and pain that life can bring. That makes the peace have value.

Still, I wish I could give it to them. I wish everyone could be here where I am. I wish I could stay this content forever. I know such things aren't possible, but it doesn't stop my brain from trying to figure out a way to share it, to make it last.

I'm sleepy now. My fingers are missing appropriate keys and I feel like I'm chasing coherent thoughts around inside my head like the last marshmallow in a bowl of cereal. Elusive.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Possible futures:

Someday, someone is going to love her in ways she could never anticipate.
Someday she is going to find out that real love is better and harder than they all say.
Someday she'll cook him dinner and he'll carry the heavy things.
Someday she'll have someone to go on adventures with. And someone to come home to when  the adventures don't involve him.
Someday she'll find out that he can irritate her more than anyone she's ever met. And then make her smile.
Someday he might make her cry or leave her or break her heart.
Or someday he might prove that he really did love her for the rest of his life.
Someday she'll know what it is to be held and loved and wanted.

But today, she is alone.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I wish I could have a picture of what I would look like at my goal weight. I think it would be so much easier to keep going if I had that face to look forward to. If I knew how my legs could be and how flat my stomach could get. I wish I could see it.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

I've had to let go of a lot of things. We all do. Some things are like a pan you suddenly realize is much, much too hot for bare hands. You drop it easily. But other things are more difficult to release. Steering wheels and handrails and other peoples hands.

This time I realize my grip was too strong. My poor, barren hands got too enthusiastic when I found something to hold on to and I didn't realize the edges were cutting me to pieces. I tried a looser grip but it was much too late.

I am covered in blisters and my fingers are shaking.
Even balancing it on my open palms is enough to make my eyes water.

Loving you just hurts too much.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


I don’t want to be one of your phases
a glorious two-week infatuation
like your foray into oil panting
or that half-month you were going to be a photographer

I don’t want to be a temporary distraction
some new shiny thing to take up your attention
like the week you were going to play piano
or when you trained for but never ran a half-marathon

I don’t want you to fall in and out of love with me
all wrapped up and then discarded
like the boxes of how-to books
and shells of all those hobbies you were going to take up

I don’t want to be one of your phases
a short-term too-bright version of what I’m looking for
if I only get to be one of your phases
I don’t want to be anything to you anymore

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I have been many colors.

Many times yellow
like the summer sun
sometimes too bright
but full of joy and laughter.

Or a deep, deep blue
calm and peaceful
with untold layers

I have been gray
a blanket of clouds in December skies
a rumbling promise
an inescapable cold.

Green and brown
the colors of growing things
teeming with life and future
nourishing and being nourished

Oh and Red
all passion and fire
unreasonable and demanding
delicious and dangerous

And colors without names
or feelings without colors
like the electric sizzle of wanting you
the nervous flutter of anticipation
that sharp weight of rejection
the burning of lungs that just won't breathe
and the hollow pain of disappointment

I have been many colors
but my favorite shades were all moments with you.